It has happened to many people that they are going on a plane and, suddenly, the tribulation begins to ask passengers if they carry lithium batteries. Probably, all answer "no" in unison driven by ignorance but the truth is that these elements are present in almost all electronic items that we use daily and that we normally carry with us.
As we all know, lithium batteries are devices that contain lithium salts or lithium metal and are designed to store electrical energy through electrochemical reactions. Currently, they are present in our daily lives without even realizing it but there is very little information we have about it.
One of the areas where you hear most about them has to do with airplanes. And this is the reason why it is common for people to ask...
Can you take li-ion batteries on a plane in 2020?
The answer is yes. Despite all the existing limitations, it is completely possible to transport a lithium battery in an airplane. But, it is prudent to understand that a lithium battery can be transported by plane depending on whether it is installed in the equipment and its capacity in Watts-hour (Wh) (in the case of rechargeable), or the content of Lithium in grams (LC) (for non-rechargeable ones).
The IATA (International Air Transport Association), as well as almost 100% of the airline companies, has needed to update the regulations regarding the transport of lithium batteries, as the use of these devices is spreading in a huge way. As we have mentioned before, they are present in our daily life, to the point that today they serve not only as a power supply for mobile phones and electronic devices but also for cars, motorcycles, scooters, drones and much more.
These changes and the need to innovate in a market with greater demand, has led us to have sizes much more varied than those that existed before, so some batteries reach very large and dangerous sizes for air transport.
Of course, there are batteries of different qualities and not only the size or Wh (watts-hour) matters, but these are the main features that are taken into account for regulations. In this sense, the main restriction is that no lit-ion battery should exceed 160 Wh.
In addition to it, the information about all lithium batteries that are going to be transported by air both by passengers and by the crew must be notified to airport personnel. Thus, the airline must approve the transport of the batteries in accordance with the regulations and policies of the company.
What batteries are not allowed on airplanes?
Restrictions for the transport of lithium batteries started because, in the worst cases, the following may happen:
-Lithium batteries can overheat and burn with the heat of approximately 600 degrees Celsius and cause a fire in the airplane hold.
-Overheated batteries can emit vapors that if they accumulate can cause explosions.
-Fire extinguishing systems installed in airplanes do not allow extinguishing a fire caused by the explosion of the batteries.
In this way, it has been determined that it is strongly forbidden to transport large lithium batteries, especially those that exceed 160 Wh. At the same time, the IATA recommends carrying any device with a lithium battery in the cabin of the plane instead of in the checked luggage.
It is prudent to understand that lithium batteries are classified as:
- Lithium or primary metal batteries:
They are generally not rechargeable and their transport by air, when they go individually or loose, is prohibited. They can be found in watches, calculators, cameras, among others.
To transport this type of batteries, they must be declared as dangerous goods under UN 3480, Class 9 and G.E. II. According to IATA regulations, these batteries can only be transported by cargo plane under boarding instructions 965.
- Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) or secondary batteries:
They are rechargeable and used in electronic equipment such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, etc.
If you intend to transport them, batteries that are a component of more than one device are declared as UN 3481, Class 9. In this case, they can fly by passenger plane if accepted by the airline, but packages that include lithium batteries must travel separated from the rest of the merchandise, labeled with the corresponding information and, also, they must be accompanied by the shipper’s declaration.
In summary, the elements that are completely prohibited are:
-Battery-powered vehicles such as electric skateboards and the like.
-Defective, remanufactured and/or damaged batteries.
-Lithium metal batteries (non-rechargeable) loose or spare.
How do you safely take li-ion battery on planes?
As we have said repeatedly, it is always advisable to inform the airline about the lithium batteries that it carries, so we also advise that each passenger knows in detail the specifications of the lithium battery models that he/she uses.
In addition, in order to safely take li-ion battery on plans, it is pertinent to follow the following tips:
-Know the restrictions on the transport of lithium batteries by air.
-In the Travel Information section of the airline, check the baggage policy for the transport of Dangerous Goods and lithium batteries.
-Use the Call Center lines to obtain information in case of doubts regarding the transport of lithium batteries.
-Do not transport hidden dangerous goods.
-Answer security questions correctly.
-Follow the procedures indicated by the airline staff regarding the transport of lithium batteries.
-In case of an emergency in flight, provide all the information regarding the contents of your luggage to apply the appropriate emergency procedure.
Remember that both your safety and that of other people is important. Therefore, to avoid any mishap, you should always be aware of everything you need to know about the air transport of lithium batteries. In this way, you will not only travel safely but also you will avoid fines and penalties.
In conclusion, you should not worry, your devices with lithium batteries can travel with you as long as you comply with the regulations set by the authorities.
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